Tomorrow’s Utilities Should Innovate, Plan for Climate Change & New Competition Today

Navigant and Public Utilities Fortnightly release fourth annual State & Future of Power report

CHICAGO – A survey of nearly 400 executives and influencers across the U.S. and Canadian utility industry found that climate change, evolving business models, and new competitors are among the most pressing issues in today and tomorrow’s power sector.

Survey results from Navigant (NYSE: NCI) and Public Utilities Fortnightly’s fourth annual special report on State & Future of Power underscore the importance of utilities taking immediate steps to protect their current business while also solidifying their future role and growing shareholder value:

  • 69% of respondents think utilities should pursue a dual strategy investing in both current and new business models. 
  • 68% believe climate change is already posing a tangible threat to utilities today. 
  • 65% said technology and telecommunications companies pose the biggest competitive threat to utilities.
  • 60% accept that rapid increases in distributed energy resources (DER) and renewables are the most disruptive force for utilities.

“Whether from disruptive forces or changing business models, utilities face complex challenges, but also unprecedented opportunities for growth,” says Jan Vrins, leader of Navigant’s global Energy practice. “Investing in sustainable energy infrastructure and solutions, taking a customer-centric approach, and developing innovative business and regulatory models are all critical paths to staying relevant to shareholders and customers in tomorrow’s energy industry.”

Dual track innovation and new competitors
According to the report, as utilities seek to preserve their current business models, they can achieve new growth by diversifying products and services. Many of today’s forward-looking utilities are pursuing Energy as a Service (EaaS) solutions—the market for which is expected to triple to nearly $60 billion by 2026, according to Guidehouse Insights.

The report notes that as utilities enter the market with new offerings—from EV charging and mobility services to lighting as a service—they will increasingly bump up against traditional technology and telecommunications companies. Technology and telecom companies are expected to be some of the biggest threats to utilities, according to the survey, even as they support utilities in developing new products and services. 

Less than 14% of survey respondents see oil & gas companies as the biggest threat to utilities despite their growing investments in new energy assets like renewables, charging infrastructure, and DER. Navigant expects these companies will move aggressively into the power and utility sector as they build and diversify their businesses before eventually becoming electric utilities themselves.

Climate change and making do with disruption
Survey results also indicate that planning for and mitigating against the effects of climate change should be a priority. Respondents believe utilities should factor climate risk into investment decision-making and focus on developing more resilient infrastructure through non-traditional technologies such as microgrids.

As in previous years, the majority of survey respondents believe that DER and renewables are the most disruptive forces for utilities. Guidehouse Insights data shows new global DER capacity deployments are already outpacing the deployment of new centralized generation capacity, with North America slated to install over 60 GW of capacity in 2028, generating revenue of $44 billion.

Download State & Future of Power to see the full survey results and insights from 10 of Navigant’s energy experts. The report analyzes today’s utility industry and the major changes expected in the next 10-15 years. Join the social media conversation through #FutureUtility.

With over 600 consultants, Navigant’s global Energy practice is the largest energy and sustainability consulting team in the industry. We collaborate with utilities and energy companies, governments and NGOs, large corporations, product manufacturers, tech vendors, and investors to help them thrive in a rapidly changing energy environment. Our clients include the world’s 60 largest electric, water, and gas utilities; the 20 largest independent power generators; and the 20 largest gas distribution and pipeline companies. Navigant’s seasoned professionals and highly skilled specialists form exceptional teams to help clients transform their businesses, manage complexity and accelerate operational performance, meet compliance requirements, and transform organizations and systems to address upcoming changes as the energy transition accelerates.

About Navigant
Navigant Consulting, Inc. (NYSE: NCI) is a specialized, global professional services firm that helps clients take control of their future. Navigant’s professionals apply deep industry knowledge, substantive technical expertise, and an enterprising approach to help clients build, manage, and/or protect their business interests. With a focus on markets and clients facing transformational change and significant regulatory or legal pressures, the firm primarily serves clients in the healthcare, energy, and financial services industries. Across a range of advisory, consulting, outsourcing, and technology/analytics services, Navigant’s practitioners bring sharp insight that pinpoints opportunities and delivers powerful results.

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